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Feral Hogs: An Invasive Species

Wild pigs have been present in coastal South Carolina since they were released by the Spanish in the 1500s. Their historic range was geographically limited to floodplains of major river systems. In the mountains of the state, Eurasian wild hogs were introduced in the early 1900s. In the 1980s wild pigs were found in only 26 counties, with the distribution generally resembling their historic range. Wild pigs are highly adaptable. By 2008 wild pigs were documented in all 46 counties with small, scattered populations in the Piedmont area related to recent translocation by humans. The harvest of wild pigs in 2009 was estimated at 36,888 and the estimated population in 2010 is 150,000. The South remains the epicenter of wild hog populations.

Wild pigs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They are most frequently blackish, and typically have a coat of brown or black hairs with white or tan distal tips. Pigs have 44 permanent teeth, these teeth grow continually and because of friction become quite sharp, particularly the lower canines. These “tusks” can grow 4 inches or more in length out of the socket. Wild pigs mature at a young age and can reproduce multiple times a year. Females can have large litters up to 8 piglets. Piglets normally are weaned around 3 months at which time females can start breeding.

In most areas the most significant cause of mortality in wild pigs is hunting. In most cases hunting alone cannot control population.

  • In the United States, $1.5 billion dollars in agricultural damage is lost annually due to feral hogs.

  • Wild hogs consume and trample crops such as hay, corn, peanuts, small grains, vegetables, watermelons, soybeans, cotton, and others. They damage pasture by rooting and digging.

  • Feral hogs can damage fences, roads and cause serious damage to dikes.

  • Wild hogs can also have an impact on livestock:

    • They can prey on lambs, goats, newborn cattle, poultry, & exotic game.

    • Predation on young animals usually occurs on calving or lambing grounds, may be attracted to afterbirth. They kill prey by biting and crushing skull or neck.

  • Wild hogs can cause forestry and reforestation problems. Hardwood and pine seedlings (especially longleaf) are very susceptible to pig damage through consumption, rooting and trampling.

  • Wild hogs cause damage in suburban communities. Yards, landscape, and ornamental plants can be destroyed. They also cause damage to gardens and can cause considerable damage to golf courses.

  • Feral hogs carry disease that affect human beings, livestock, and wildlife.

  • Known Feral Swine Diseases and Risks:

Pseudorabies, Swine Brucellosis, Classic Swine Fever, African Swine Fever

Foot-and-Mouth Disease, PRRS, Circovirus, Influenza Virus, Trichinosis, Toxoplasmosis

Newberry Soil & Water Conservation District piloted a Feral Swine Eradication and Control Program thru the NRCS and the USDA along with Savannah River Ecology Lab, Animal Plant Health Inspection Services and University of GA Research Foundation. The program tracks, monitors and removes Feral Hogs across Newberry County thru September 2023. We are looking for participation from Newberry County Landowners to utilize their lands to eradicate this invasive species. Since program inception in December 2020 there have been 249 Hogs from 8021 acres on 21 participating landowners in Newberry County. The program may also has funding to help replant crops.

Please contact Crista at the NSWCD office at 803-597-3160 to participate.

Credits DNR, West, Cooper and Armstrong (Managing Wild Pigs: A Technical Guide)

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